Maya is a girl whom apparently owns a business where she repairs small box-like robots known as Tetrobots, which she does by injecting an even smaller robot — known as a Psychobot — inside the broken machines in order to repair them from the inside out. Strangely all of the robots that Maya has been repairing seem to have photos of her — from various points in her past — in their recovered data after she’s repaired them, which is quite odd since they were otherwise owned by people from all over the entire world. Thus goes the otherwise somewhat paper-thin premise to Tetrobot and Co. (out now, $2.99), a game that — mostly ignorable premise aside — is actually an a fairly well crafted puzzle game by the fine folks over at Swing Swing Submarine.
Some have proclaimed that the greatest games of all time have no need for a cluttered tutorial, and can instead use the structure of their early levels — such as with Super Mario Bros.’s highly-examined World 1-1 — in order to show you all of the game’s nuances. Tetrobot and Co. is indeed one of these games, with the player — upon starting — immediately being thrust into the controls of a lone Psychobot, all with nary an explanation as to how anything operates. From there you’ll quickly discover that you can move nearly anywhere merely by tapping the screen, pick up blocks simply by touching them, and then spit captured blocks back out by dragging them onto the playing field.
These blocks will have a variety of physical properties that must be learned — understood — and expertly used, and the level structures will further aid you in understanding all of these various mechanics. Usually most of these blocks will always stick to other identical blocks; some of them are resistant to lasers, while others are not; blocks will always fall down if their weight isn’t otherwise supported somehow; and so on and so forth. Furthermore, the environments will also keep adding new tricks as well: walls that can be travelled through, but only when moving very quickly; sticky walls that’ll grab any block that passes near them; slime monsters that march about endlessly; and various others.
Coincidentally you’ll have to employ every last one of these numerous attributes — as well as a rather healthy amount of advanced stacking-fu — if you truly intend to fix every last Tetrobot out there, in the process having your save-file one day proclaim 100% complete. In order to do this there are two goals that your block stacking prowess must conquer on each and every level: the first is to reach each stage’s swirling exit, and the second — and easily more important — is to somehow find the three hidden golden memory blocks. Generally finding each stage’s exit will be the far easier of your two objectives, as these golden memory blocks will usually be found at out-of-the-way locations that are most often accessible only via somewhat obscure routes.
Finally — before you cheer too quickly — merely reaching these special blocks is usually only half of your uphill battle, with finding a way to safely bring them back home often being a far-far worse conundrum. However, this is a diabolical conundrum that — seeing as how these blocks are required to open up later levels — absolutely must be solved in order to complete Tetrobot and Co. Interestingly — despite the fact you can easily get credit for collecting all of these across separate runs — you’ll unlock access to Maya’s photos, and what they reveal about her past, only if you grab them all within just one run.
Mercifully this doesn’t mean that you’ll get banned from 100% completionism just because you finished a stage too soon, yet it does mean that — during later replays — you’re not allowed to expedite the process by skipping those parts already finished earlier either. I’ll admit that I’m not entirely sure if it was a good idea to force people to fully redo every last part of previous stages just to get 100% credit like this, especially considering how long the levels in Tetrobot start to be by the time you reach the fourth level-set. Thankfully you’re never forced into unnecessary full-level retries just because you took a poorly planned action at some point, such as allowing a needed block to accidentally be destroyed — fall into a place where it can’t be retrieved — or some other such bad thing.
Whatever your regretted decision just so happens to be, you can always rewind it by tapping a conveniently placed icon located upon your iDevice’s upper-left hand corner. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Tetrobot and Co.’s undo-move button is that — by pressing it repeatedly — you can literally undo every last move you’ve made during the entire stage, no matter however many hundreds of moves in you might currently be. Furthermore — for those times when you suddenly find yourself well-past your initial screw up — there’s even a full stage reset option as well, should you ever decide that you don’t want to be tapping the undo move button for the next five minutes.
I am additionally happy to report that, even if things often go to the realm of diabolical madness, there is always a very real and fair logic to the various puzzles found within Tetrobot and Co. This is not one of those sloppy physics-based games where reproducing the exact same action will bizarrely lead to an infinite amount of different rage-inducing results, everything here is perfectly grid based and will always work 100% of the time. Furthermore — thanks to the game’s clever level design — you’re always guaranteed to be aware of the many nuances needed to solve each and every last puzzle present, yet you’ll still find yourself constantly looking at each new conundrum with a scream of “How?!”
Which brings me to the ultimate downside to Tetrobot and Co.: you’ll all too quickly reach the point where each new challenge brings about a total-screeching halt to your forward progress. This game — as a result — doesn’t exactly fit well within the quick-play break-time mentality that fuels most mobile gamers, and yet for this very same reason it’s going to be precisely the meatier puzzle experience that some of you have been dying for. Therefore — should you be the type who laughed at those moments when Professor Layton dug up his most maniacal sliding box puzzles — Tetrobot and Co. will probably be the app of your dreams, if not — however — you might just wish to pass on this repair job.
iFanzine Verdict: Tetrobot and Co. is a block-stacking exploration game with cleverly designed — yet fiendishly challenging puzzles — wherein your block stacking prowess will be put to the ultimate test, and sometimes even leave you screaming out in rage. Ultimately this is both Tetrobot and Co.’s ultimate pro and absolute worst con, as only those who truly adore hardcore block-stacking puzzles will manage to avoid endlessly being driven to a guide over and over again. Those up to this challenge — however — will be quite pleased by both the high levels of polish that went into Tetrobot, as well as the large amounts of mechanical variety that they’ll be challenged by during this journey. That said — however — I really do hope that Swing Swing Submarine will reconsider their “all blocks must be grabbed during the same run” rule, as it ultimately serves little purpose other than to utterly waste the time of every player trying to reach 100%.